Marsh Volunteers for Museum Learning Award
These Awards are run in partnership with the British Museum and recognise the best practice and most innovative ways in which volunteers work in museums and galleries to engage the public with collections.
The Awards recognise 12 regional winners and celebrate projects which have taken place in the previous year. The 2015 Awards were presented in 2016.
The National Award is presented to the region in which the judges feel that the winner has made a tangible difference to the public offer in the museum and introduced a unique dimension to that offer.
The 2015 winner is Heritage Group Volunteers, Blaenavon Community Museum
In January 2015, it was announced that the Blaenavon Community Heritage and Alexander Cordell Museum was to be relocated. This presented a considerable challenge, since the museum was run entirely by volunteers of the Blaenavon Heritage Group with no core funding and also since the new location had considerably less display space – however the volunteers saw this as an opportunity to refresh the museum and boost its profile as a tourist attraction. For months, volunteers worked hard to pack and label the items and plan the new displays, before spending several more months putting everything in place at the new location.
The museum was accredited in May 2016 and visitors can now appreciate a rationalised and focussed exhibition with thematic interpretation charting the cultural and social history of the South Wales Coalfield. Tourism opportunities have been improved by the volunteers, as visitors can now experience the museum along with a guided tour of the Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall (where the museum is now located), which is considered a component of ‘outstanding universal value’ within the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. The museum volunteers also run a family history service, with weekly sessions being run at the nearby Blaenavon World Heritage Centre and Library. Visitors all over the world have benefitted from this service and have been able to discover more about their Welsh roots.
The 2015 Regional Winners are:
Scotland – Louise Donnelly, National Museum of Scotland
North West England – Richard Croasdale, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery
North East England – Marilyn Weerasinghe, Auckland Castle
Yorkshire – The Preservative Party, Leeds City Museum
West Midlands – Malcolm Nixon, Museum of Royal Worcester
East Midlands – Betty Stevens, Maya Stigner, Bill Fowler and Malcolm Foster, the Abbey Pumping Centre (Leicester)
East of England – Portals to the World Volunteers, The Fitzwilliam Museum
South West - Rachel Collin, Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre
London – Feeling at Home Volunteers, Geffrye Museum
South East England – Mick Oakey, Chiddingstone Castle
Northern Ireland – Craft in Mind Volunteers, National Museums Northern Ireland
Wales – Heritage Group Volunteers, Blaenavon Community Museum
Pictured: Heritage Group Volunteers from the Blaenavon Community Museum pictured with Professor Clive Gamble, Trustee of the British Museum (left) and Brian Marsh, Chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust (right)
The British Museum
Great Russell Street